One of the more frustrating aspects of condo living is the lack of interest residents have in the corporation’s governing documents; declaration, by-laws, rules and the Condo Act.
Every condo owner receives a copy of their corporation declaration, by-laws and rules. Few choose to read these documents until something happens that they don’t like.
This may explain why condo directors and management respond to so many issues by encouraging residents to review their documents. These documents are not like the owner manual for a car or appliance; only to be reviewed when there is a specific question or problem. They are an integral part of condo living.
These documents are large because they cover so many aspects of condo living. They can be hard to understand. It can be easy to become overwhelmed.
So, exactly what is included in these documents?
These documents establish a minimum level of transparency. They clarify what meetings are required, what notices must be provided, information that must be provided to owners and how the condo board operates. There is information about how condo fees are split among condo owners and how bank accounts are to be maintained.
Surprising to many is the authority given to condo directors which comprise the condo board.
These documents clarify what can and can’t be done within condo suites. Generally speaking anything that can be heard, smelled or seen outside of a condo suite may be controlled through condo documents. There may be restrictions on window coverings or when renovations can occur. Any work that can impact on other residents such as plumbing, electrical or even flooring may have controls or restrictions applied.
Condo corporation maintenance obligations are identified. Maintenance for which the corporation is not responsible becomes an individual owner responsibility. In-suite responsibilities may include caulking, internal wall and ceiling issues, plumbing and heating/cooling systems. Typically, these are routine maintenance items affecting individual condo suites.
The reality is that most condo owners choose not to read these documents. Condo directors and management can help educate condo owners and residents. They can avoid problems and misunderstandings by communicating aspects of these documents at appropriate times.
Condo owners that take time to read and understand these documents are the most helpful to the corporation. They are more likely to participate as directors or on committees. They are your most likely community leaders!